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Historic Belleview Biltmore under contract to be sold

BELLEAIR — A lawyer representing the Belleview Biltmore Hotel's owners confirmed Tuesday that the property is on track to be sold by the end of the month.

Attorney Ed Armstrong, who represents current Biltmore owners Raphael and Daniel Ades, said a confidentiality agreement prevented him from divulging the name of the potential buyer or details of the ongoing negotiations.

However, Armstrong said the buyer's intention is to develop the property residentially.

"It's completely consistent with the use that's already been proposed" by the Ades brothers, who said in August that they wanted to raze the Biltmore to make way for a 32-townhome, 136-condo development.

Belleair commissioners are scheduled Jan. 21 to discuss possible zoning changes that would allow such construction. Only hotels and single-family homes are allowed under the parcel's current land use and zoning designations and height restrictions, as well as the town's comprehensive plan.

Neighbors living in the Residential Planned Development district of condos and single-family homes that surround the site recently voted in favor of the new zoning designation.

The sale, if completed, would deal another blow to Richard Heisenbottle, a Coral Gables architect who had pledged to renovate the historic landmark.

He missed his Oct. 31 deadline to raise $200,000 in earnest money to buy the hotel and save it from demolition. In December, he offered the town of Belleair $3.5 million for the nearby golf course, but town staff said they rejected the bid partly because Heisenbottle said the deal was contingent on the success of his renewed effort to purchase the hotel.

Reached by the Tampa Bay Times, Heisenbottle said that his team had been "very, very close" to a deal with the Ades brothers and was "saddened" by news of its potential sale to a residential developer rather than a preservationist.

"We feel badly ourselves that we're not the purchaser because we think it's an amazing property with tremendous potential," he said. "But we also feel sorry for the people of Belleair because we truly believe this iconic hotel is truly the heart and soul of this town. It will be a tremendous loss for the town."

At 5:30 tonight, town commissioners will meet at City Hall to review the final terms of a 10-year lease with Green Golf Partners, the company that has managed the Biltmore Golf Course since the town bought it last February to protect the green space in light of hotel negotiations.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or ksummers@tampabay.com. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Historic Belleview Biltmore under contract to be sold 01/14/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 5:55pm]
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